Leaving Bad Impressions


In 1991, WC was trapped in a broken elevator in his office building with a woman who was obsessed with the alleged witchcraft in a series of Junior High School language arts books recently adopted by the local school district. “Do you know,” she told WC, “That if you photocopy the illustration at pages 119-120,…

The United Plates of America


Most of Alaska, like most Alaskans, originally came from somewhere else. John McPhee, Assembling California WC’s second year geology classes at the University of Oregon – prosaically enough, Geology 201, 202 and 203 – were taught mostly by visiting professors. The second quarter class focused on structural geology, a refreshing change after the tedious and…

One of Them Mettiefor Thingies


When WC was visiting family in his old home town, Stockton, California, probably in 1959 or so, WC’s older cousins, Gary and Bob, were working as after-hours maintenance workers at the Micke Grove Zoo. Back then, what’s now the Lemur Island was the Monkey Island. As cousin Bob hosed off the walkways and emptied the…

It Turns Out “Woke” Isn’t New in Alaska


Harry Badger arrived in Fairbanks, Alaska before it was Fairbanks, when there was little more there than E.T. Barnette’s recently erected trading post, Barnette’s Cache. Newly appointed Territorial Judge James Wickersham described Barnette’s cache: A rough log structure, with spread-eagle wings [that] looked like a disreputable pig sty, but was in fact, Barnette’s trading post,…

WC’s Epic Fails: Felix and the Moose


A reader pointed out that it had been a while since WC provided a new Epic Fail story describing WC’s consistently sketchy judgment. The complaint was likely triggered by WC’s recent link to his adventures with the Eugene Police Department. While WC’s supply of stories of this kind only appears to be infinite, here’s another…

Demon Weed


Even after half a century, WC will change the names and dates just a little bit. Besides, this is a story. Not history. Readers should assume none of this ever happened. But for something that might not have ever happened, it’s pretty gruesome. Readers be warned: this is not a nice story at all. It…

Part of Flanders Field Cemetery and Memorial

Veteran’s Day and Armistice Day


(This is a re-post, explaining WC’s ambivalence to Veteran’s Day, first posted back in 2012.) WC’s maternal grandfather served in France in World War I. He wanted nothing to do with Veteran’s Day. He regarded it as a cheapening, a betrayal of Armistice Day. He solemnly, sometimes tearfully, celebrated Armistice Day with a minute of…

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, 26 Jul 1996, p. 8

WC’s Epic Fails: The Wink


WC, for 25 months, practiced law with the late Jerry LaParle. By several orders of magnitude, it was the worst professional mistake WC made in his career. One episode will show why WC makes such an unqualified statement. Tensions between WC and LaParle were already high when LaParle announced he would be representing Fairbanks attorney…

Bethel DEW Line Station, June 1999 (Photo by Mrs. WC)

Dan and Eb


When WC was a pup – a young pup – living in Bethel, Alaska, WC’s parents decided to take in boarders to make a little extra money. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was busy supervising construction of the Distant Early Warning Radar System, the DEW Line. Bethel was the southwestrn Alaska hub for construction…

View of Okmok's ash plume emitting from multiple vents near intracaldera Cone D, taken at about 1:30 pm on August 3, 2008 by Jessica Larsen, Alaska Volcano Observatory, Geophysical Institute

Oh, Sure, Blame Alaska


Now Alaska is being blamed for the fall of the Roman Republic. Sheesh. WC doesn’t remember that being discussed at all Edward Gibbon’s classic Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. . An environmental researcher named Joe McConnell and his colleagues examining ice cores from northern Greenland found volcanic ash and sulfuric acid in ice layers laid…

Yes, you are right -- I am a moralist in disguise; it gets me into heaps of trouble when I go thrashing around in political questions.

The 110th Anniversary of Mark Twain’s Death


Samuel Langhorne Clemens, a/k/a Mark Twain, had a huge influence on WC as a young man. In particular his later works, stuff like The Mysterious Stranger, “The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg,” Letters from Earth and A Pen Warmed Up in Hell have an obvious impact on WC’s writing even today. Twain’s critical essay on James Fenimore Cooper, “Cooper’s Literary…

James Drury as the title character in “The Virginian.” Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive, via Getty Images

R.I.P. James Drury, 1934-2020


WC seems to have been writing a lot of obituaries lately. It’s a hazard of being a geezer blogger: your friends, childhood heroes and the folks who wrote the soundtrack of your life get old and die. The world is depressing enough without back-to-back – three of the last five blog posts – obits. WC…

Wang Laboratories Headquarters in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1992 (Photo AP/Townson)

Adventures with Wang Labs


Many years ago, WC attended a course on business valuation, the art of determining the fair price of a business. It’s more complicated than you’d believe. And fraught with risk.  That course came to mind as WC was sorting through old papers and came across a memo WC had written to the shareholders in his…

WC Demonstrating Nansen Bottles, Kodiak, Alaska, 1967

On the Importance of Washing Your Hands


Occasionally, WC’s blog posts carry a lesson. This 2012 post (slightly revised here), carries a lesson for the times. And the story may even make you smile. WC alluded to this minor event earlier. The story may not be suitable for every reader. You’ve been warned. In the summer of 1967, it was WC’s great…

FileMaker

How to Ruin Software


Once upon a time there was a small software startup called Nashoba Systems. Nashoba was made up of four refugees from Wang Laboratories, a one-time minicomputer manufacturer. Nashoba saw a niche in the infant personal computer industry for an easy-to-use database software product. So in 1985, Nashoba published Nutshell for the PC and, a few…